Recognition Pro: Coaching Managers to Recognize & Reward
Regardless of what forms of incentive, recognition or rewards you are using in your organization, you will achieve higher value if you are mindful of how such items are delivered.
Take, for example, a five-year service award. I contend the activity of personally recognizing that employee milestone is many times more meaningful than the specific token gift that may be received. Instead of receiving a five-year pin, logo'd jewelry or a choice of gift delivered to your desk with a form letter several months after your anniversary, most employees would be far more touched to get a personal call or visit from their manager on the day of their anniversary. Their manager could say something like: "I noticed it was your five-year anniversary today. Can you believe how fast the time has gone? I can still remember your first day of work! I was excited about having you on the team then and I'm excited about having you with us today. Thanks for confirming my good judgment in hiring you!"
Of course, the manager would have to take some initiative to mark his calendar in advance and take a few minutes to connect with the employee on that day, but it's exactly those personal actions that give the interaction so much meaning for the typical employee. The thoughtful, personal touch tells the employee that although you are busy, you are not too busy when it comes to taking time for an employee.
In another example, I know someone who had been a part of a project team that lasted for quite some time. The team members worked hard and they achieved significant results. Many weeks after their last meeting, coffee mugs with an imprinted name of the project mysteriously appeared on each member's desk. My friend's reaction was "I guess this is for all the overtime I worked on that project. Some thanks!"
Needless to say, the lack of context given to this recognition item undermined what otherwise might have been a very thoughtful gesture of thanks and teamwork. Whoever went through the effort and expense to provide the coffee mugs could have pulled the group together--perhaps for a celebrations lunch--and distributed the mugs at that time as a memento of the team project with individual words of thanks for each team member. In that instance the coffee mugs would have been more likely to serve as a symbolic reminder of that shared team effort for years to come.
Besides making recognition more meaningful, providing a context adds a practical element to the activity as well. It gives you a chance to:
- Specifically identify the desired performance thus eliminating any guessing on the part of the employee and creating a strong link Between the desired performance and the reward.
- Generalize the specific performance to a larger category of desired behavior such as teamwork, a company value or organizational initiative.
- Set a public example
for other employees as to what things get noticed and rewarded in your
Taking the time to personalize the delivery of any achievement award adds to its values for all of us. It creates an emotional impact that seems rarely felt today in the workplace.
By providing a context for an award or recognition item, you have a chance to tie the item and event to a larger context for the employee, thus potentially connecting one's job responsibilities to a larger framework, a deeper sense of commitment and group purpose, and ultimately to the overall mission of the organization.
Posted by Curt Denevan: